No, You're The Hero

Not just any hashtag … it’s a CommsHero hashtag *camera to film custard seductively oozing out of a Krispy Kreme doughnut

I can’t remember the exact date I discovered the CommsHero hashtag, but I do remember that it changed my mindset, it helped me pursue my mission.

Yes, I know that may sound a little dramatic but let me explain. 

I’m a people person.  My heart is filled with happiness when I’m surrounded by people, my wish is for everyone to live a healthy and happy life, I want everyone to reach their full potential, I need everyone to know that it’s not selfish to put your physical and mental health first. 

I’ve been freelancing for over 2 years now, mainly creating content to help organisations engage with their workforce (aka their greatest asset and don’t you dare forget that). I spend a lot of time on my own at my desk in my house instead of being surrounded by 1,500 corporate colleagues which I did for nearly two decades.  #CommsHero became my lifeline – it opened up a whole new world to me – in seconds I can connect and engage with like-minded creative people.

asif.jpg

The creation of this hashtag has brought together a community, without it I’d probably be sat at my desk and dare I admit it – maybe consider ditching the freelance life and getting myself a j.o.b.! Thanks Asif, you’re a legend!

My first CommsHero Conference

Say what! A room full of others who love the CommsHero hashtag? People I follow and ‘chat’ to on social media in the actual flesh!  Hell to the yeah – sign me up!

And there I was, handwritten ticket in hand (if you think Charlie Bucket was excited when he found his non-personalised gold ticket schmicket in a filthy grid think again!) about to walk into the Bridgewater Hall on my own in a room full of people I hadn’t met IRL*. 

What the AF** was I worried about, I was surrounded by familiar faces – thank you hashtag.

There are bits about being a freelancer that suck!

Being freelance means I get to work in my pyjamas – all day if I want.  I can market myself how I want to with no sign off – I worked for a bank for 18 years and you have no idea how good that feels.  I can (and do) drink Yorkshire Tea constantly without any judgemental looks (nothing to do with the choice of brand, everything to do with the quantity I consume).  Ultimately, I get to be me.  I get to live out my personal goals and values.

But being alone sucks.  I launched Redwood Copy with one aim.  That was to help companies find more creative ways to engage with their staff – even just communicate with them would be a start whether that is through the written word or actually speaking! You can have the best strategies and plans in place to boost that bottom line, but if your workforce aren’t feeling the love – you can kiss goodbye to it – simple as!

There were many moments when I worked in the gloriously boring world of finance (sorry ex-colleagues and bankers across the world) when I would simply day-dream about running my own copywriting business and my purpose.  Allow me to share one such moment with you:

For this to make sense I need you to know that I have Crohn’s disease (having any invisible illness and working for a large corporation is a ruddy challenge and tests the strongest of people, even Strongy McStrongface***).

Me chatting inwardly to myself while scanning the sea of heads in an open plan office crippled with the pain that Crohn’s cruelly brings: “You lot don’t know how lucky you are.”

Colleague walking past 10 mins later after getting themselves a cuppa and not bringing me one (aka tw*t): “Hi Mand, you look well.”

I look WHAT now!  He couldn’t have been further from the truth, but why would he know? Maybe he would have brought me a brew if he did know I was feeling like shit – btw ‘getting yourself a cup of tea without asking if anyone else wants one’ is a crime in my eyes and yes, I hold grudges.  Statistically 1 in 4 of us experience poor mental health every year, so why did I assume that my fellow colleagues were all OK.  Probably to do with the fact that we don’t talk, we’ve forgotten how to communicate, or maybe we feel that if we open up, our story will stop our chances of succeeding or getting promotion.  Sod that … organisations need to treat everyone as individuals – motivate them, embrace diversity, make adjustments, support them and develop them to be their best selves.  It should not be seen as an unnecessary cost – it’s an investment.

Redwood Copy launched.  I knew my purpose, my core values and my goals.

But I was doing this alone. 

Authentic connections

The theme of the conference was Authenticity.  Bloody brilliant – let’s all be a bit more human in our communications.  Weirdly, this doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people.  As soon as they put a pen in their hand or place a finger on a keyboard formality kicks in.  We’ve all done it, it’s time to stop that crap and realise that the people you are communicating to are just that – real life people with families, worries of their own, in need of a bit of humour, craving for some genuinely authentic emotional connections.

The theme didn’t disappoint, and I learnt so much from the most talented people in the world of comms - Grant Leboff, Hel Reynolds and the marketing and PR gurus from Yorkshire Tea, Greggs, Yorkshire Wildlife Park (The UKs number 1 walk-through wildlife adventure) and Innocent.  It would have taken me weeks to research the expertise they shared on the day.  Plus, I got to enjoy Greggs’ delights, plenty of proper brews and my very first Krispy Kreme - hhhmmmmm dreamy!

Even better, I made my own authentic connections.  I met my twitter fam.  These are the colleagues I CHOOSE to have.  The colleagues who inspire me every day. The colleagues who never fail to make me laugh.  The colleagues who support me without even realising they are doing it. 

So, a word to all freelancers out there.  It’s hard, I know it is, but there are people out there who bring communities together and keep us emotionally happy and healthy, they do this alongside their day jobs – yes, I am talking about the team at We Are Resource committed to bring amazing marketing communications to life.  They really are heroes.

If you haven’t discovered the CommsHero hashtag, take a peek.  It may just spark a beautiful relationship.

Oh, and thanks for inviting me on stage to say a few words too.  My mum would have been proud.  Not because of my bravery to speak in front of a large room full of frickin’ heroes, but because I managed not to swear. 

Keep it real everyone, Amanda x

  

*in real life

**actual flip

***unoriginal idea for a name, heavily influenced by Boaty McBoatface (polar exploration ship which ended up with a much safer name - BORING!) and Gritty McGritface (Shropshire Council’s gritter name).  I’m proud to know (thanks again to the CommsHero conference) the person responsible for Doncaster Council’s poll to find a name for their gritter – David Plowie.  Genius, and no Mc or Face in sight.  For the record I also liked the other choices of Basil Salty, Spready Mercury and Usain Salt.  You de man Liam!